WTF is… 4G

The great thing about standards, as some wit once said, is that there are so many to choose from. Mobile phones have a multiplicity of standards, nested within one another like a messy set of Russian dolls filled with alphabet soup.

WTF is… 4G article tells about the newest hot mobile phone standard. The ‘generations’ of mobile networks are fairly loose, but appear roughly once a decade: the first, analogue, 1G cellular networks around 1981, then digital 2G in about 1992, 3G at the turn of the century.

And now 4G is the hot topic: 4G will be a pure packet-switched TCP/IP network, running everything over IPv6. Voice becomes VoIP. There are two competing 4G technologies: LTE and WiMax. Now it seems that almost everyone going with LTE. What will become the 4G mobile standard for the whole world is 3GPP Release 10: LTE Advanced. It’s a compatible enhancement of LTE to bring it up to the ITU stipulations.

The single most important characteristic of true 4G is that it doesn’t exist yet. Many of the current generation of 4G-branded phones in the US are not actually 4G, whatever their names may suggest.


  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    LightSquared Files Bankruptcy After Network Blocked

    LightSquared Inc. filed for bankruptcy, saying it will seek to resolve the concerns of U.S. regulators who thwarted the company’s plan to deliver high-speed wireless to as many as 260 million people.

    Bankruptcy “is intended to give LightSquared sufficient breathing room to continue working through the regulatory process that will allow us to build our 4G wireless network,” Chief Financial Officer Marc Montagner said in a statement. Reaching agreements with U.S. agencies may take as long as two years, he said in court papers.

    Yesterday’s bankruptcy filing wasn’t an “option the company embraced quickly or easily, but it was necessary to protect LightSquared against creditors who were looking for a quick profit,”

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    HTC dials in to Taiwan’s 4G battle

    The new model of the HTC One is the first handset supporting Taiwan’s WiMax frequency bands. Service providers hope the handset giant rolls out at least one more device in the fall.

    Taiwan’s government has issued six WiMax spectrum licenses, but only four are active, said Lynn Lin, president of Vee Time Corp. (Taichung, Taiwan) that is using three of them. The company has about 100,000 WiMax subscribers, getting download speeds up to 6-8 Mbits/s compared to 500 Kbits/s to 1 Mbit/s for competing 3G cellular services, he said.

    The country’s other WiMax provider, Global Mobile Corp. (Taipei), claims it has about 120,000 subscribers and is offering Voice over IP as part of its data plan which it claims delivers even faster rates. Both companies are under the gun to get a bigger slice of Taiwan’s more than 22 million cellular subscribers.

    The national communications agency here plans to release its spectrum plan for LTE licenses in the second half of next year, said Lin. Taiwan’s six 3G carriers will try to snap up the LTE licenses to migrate the bulk of today’s 3G users to LTE.

    Indeed, around the globe the race for which 4G technology will dominate is pretty much over with LTE the hands down winner. Taiwan is among the few remaining pockets around the globe yet to play out its 4G battle.

    The WiMax upstarts rely in part with user frustration with the highly congested 3G network, particularly in urban centers such as Taipei where services can be noticeably slow.

    In March 2010, HTC was the first handset maker to ship a WiMax phone. Geared for the Sprint network, it was billed as the first 4G handset of any kind and used a WiMax chip set from Sequans Communications.

    For HTC, a national success story, the Taiwan WiMax phone is almost a distraction as it tries to maintain its position on the global stage.

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Beat power management challenges in advanced LTE smartphones

    Ask any group of people about their phone, and while several may comment on the cool new features and apps, you are also sure to find several who complain about smartphone battery life.

    Mobile applications are the latest phenomenon causing a larger than normal spike in power demand. Multiple power-hungry functions, including high-speed graphics processing and mobile broadband connections, in addition to other radio connections that manage functions such as location, are all running simultaneously.

    This power spike will have a significant impact on the mobile industry as handsets and user expectations evolve and more advanced air interfaces such as LTE become common. Whether they are mobile business warriors conducting work via the cloud on a tablet or smartphone, the geekiest gamers or somewhere in between, mobile devices users share two things in common. First, they expect their technology to work whenever and wherever they use it. Second, they are frustrated by battery issues.

    A number of factors affect power consumption and the subsequent impact on device battery life. In the case of smaller mobile devices, like smartphones, thermal management is one of the key challenges. Efficient thermal management will help increase battery life, as well as stop the waste heat from leaching out. Reduction of temperature can be achieved through several other methods, including the casing design.

    Reducing the temperature not only conserves the power in the device, but also preserves the device itself.
    wear and damage due to heat, however, is a real concern

    The power consumption issue is compounded by the need for higher data rates. Essentially, the more data that needs to be processed at speed, the worse the power consumption problem is going to become. Consider the nature of smartphones: These devices are more than just phones; they╒re expected to play music and video files, as well as streaming video. They often also serve as photo storage devices. This multitasking requires immersive graphics and sound, memory access and a high-speed broadband network connectivity through HSPA+ and LTE – all of which are power hungry. To complicate the issue, very often the user has applications like email and Facebook running in the background.

    The underlying software has done a lot to address the issues in these devices. Hardware modifications can achieve a great deal as well. The first thing a design architect can offer is a thermal simulation. This enables a manufacturer to assess the temperature limitations and emissions for each component and to test them against use in GSM, 3G and LTE environments

    The right design can make a big impact.

    The smaller the consumer device, the more difficult it is likely to be to route the heat somewhere productive or least damaging as it has fewer places it can go. This is where ASIC and particularly digital baseband design comes into its own, with the ability to switch off some power domains to minimize leakage.

    Smartphone demands for more multitasking and a better overall mobile experience are here to stay, whether it’s using mobile applications, streaming video or another yet-to-be-imagined application. Next-generation devices will face even more critical power considerations

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Europe crams ultra-fast 4G into tight spectrum crack
    Outta the way 3G, the new kid is here

    Euro telecoms regulator CEPT has released 120MHz of shiny new radio spectrum for “ultra-fast mobile broadband”, which would be more impressive if the bands weren’t full of reasonably fast data already.

    The frequencies concerned are around 2.1GHz and are already full of 3G networking everywhere – but a handful of operators are considering deploying faster 4G in those bands and can now do so with the official backing of Europe even if they’ll have to wait for permission from national regulators too.

    The bands concerned are allocated to frequency division duplex (FDD), which uses separate radio frequencies for sending and receiving to ensure a symmetrical connection. The industry is still obsessed with FDD having failed to notice that most of us download more than upload these days, but that’s a subject for another day.

    3G (UMTS) mandates 5MHz-wide channels, each of which carries multiple phones identified by a transmitted code (Code Division Multiple Access). 4G (LTE) also uses CDMS but can scale its channel width, though to achieve headline speeds it needs to spread out to its maximum 20MHz.

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Karma: a 4G provider that rewards users for sharing their data plan with strangers

    “Something is fundamentally broken in the market for mobile providers,” says Robert Gaal, one of the founders of Karma, a startup that just graduated from the TechStars NY accelerator program. “We want to give everyone a mobile, 4G hotspot that lives in their pocket. It’s open to everyone, and lets you pay as you go. Best of all it works no matter what carrier or what device you’re using.”

    The Karma hotspot costs $69 and is powered by Clearwire’s network, which provides WiMax 4G service in 80 major US cities. Users pay $14 per gigabyte of data they use, with no monthly fee or minimums. The twist is that Karma makes your hotspot into an open Wi-Fi network. When a new user joins, they are taken to a personalized page about the owner of the hotspot. Strangers can then sign in with their Facebook account and get 100MB of free browsing. For every user who does that, the owner of Karma gets 100MB of free data credited to his account. The company calls this “social telecom.”

    It’s an interesting time for Karma to enter the market, as the large mobile carriers are increasingly moving away from charging per call and text, their traditional streams of revenue, and becoming data wholesalers.

    A recent study found that the average smartphone user consumes 221MB of data per month. On Karma, that would work out to a monthly cost of $3.09. Verizon charges $50 for 1GB on its new shared plan and it charges users as much as $40 for each device they want to use beyond the first one. AT&T’s mobile data plans charge $20 for 300MB of data and require a commitment of $50 for 5GB in order to enable the tethering that turns a device into a mobile hotspot.

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Filed Under Cellphones, Wireless
    T-Mobile to conduct LTE-Advanced trials this summer in preparation for 2013 deployment

    Eager to get its LTE ducks in a row, T-Mobile announced today that it plans to begin trials of the next-gen network this summer. But here’s the kicker: despite being tardy to the high-speed party, it plans on deploying true 4G in 2013, throttling ahead to the latest and greatest version known as 3GPP Release 10 — also known as LTE-Advanced.

    He says what occurred at Moscone West this week is just the beginning — in his words, “more of these speed sightings will occur as we work toward introducing 4G HSPA+ service in our 1900MHz spectrum in a large number of markets later this year.”

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    LG hits 5 million LTE smartphones sold

    As deployment of 4G LTE networks increases, LG Electronics is reaping the benefits.

    The South Korean handset maker announced this evening it had sold 5 million LTE smartphones worldwide, with 1 million of the handsets sold in July alone.

    The company said that more than 10 LG LTE smartphones are available in countries where LTE service is available, including U.S., Japan, and select markets in Europe and Asia.

    “Sales of global LTE smartphones are expected to increase ten-fold this year from last year,” Jong-seok Park, CEO of LG Mobile Communications, said in a statement.

    According to recent numbers from Gartner, LG was No. 5 in total smartphone sales, grabbing a 3.4 percent marketshare in the second quarter of 2012

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Apple reportedly talks iPhone 5 LTE support with Korean carriers

    Apple has been negotiating with two Korean mobile carriers to provide the iPhone 5 through their LTE networks, says the Korea Times. Officials from both SK Telecom and KT, who asked not to be identified, reportedly revealed the information.

    “KT is in negotiation with Apple to persuade the latter to support KT’s 1.8-gigahertz frequency in Korea for the upcoming iPhone,” one senior KT executive said, according to Korea Times. A KT spokesperson declined to comment, the Times added.

    Both carriers are authorized Apple partners selling the iPhone in Korea, and both want the new phone to take advantage of their LTE networks. But supporting 4G LTE is trickier than supporting 3G because different LTE networks around the world use their own unique frequencies.

    In the U.S., Verizon uses a 700-megahertz frequency, while AT&T uses both 700MHz and 2.1GHz. SK and KT both use different frequencies. So the burden rests on Apple to manufacture separate iPhones with different LTE modems to support the various frequencies. That’s why Apple doesn’t offer Korean consumers LTE as an option on its newest iPad.

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Ofcom: 4G won’t knock out granny’s personal alarm
    LTE’s lack of power and spectral capacity will save her

    Ofcom has been looking at how 4G networks will interfere with the short-range devices next door, and concludes that LTE handsets haven’t the power or capacity to generate significant interference.

    According to the study carried out by the regulator (PDF, surprisingly readable) LTE devices are too conscientious in their power consumption, and the bands will be too crowded with other users, for the full potential of LTE transmission to be unleashed, thus mitigating the interference risk almost entirely.

    When the 800MHz blocks are sold off next year as part of the 4G auctions, one of the uplink bands (handset to base station) will be right beside the spectrum reserved for short-range devices. These devices include unlicensed wireless microphones, personal alarms and amplified headphones for the hard of hearing, and concerns have been raised that LTE handsets could knock out those users – concerns Ofcom would like to put to rest.

    We talk about radio transmission existing within a band – 853-862MHz in this specific instance

    Mobile phones don’t transmit at full power all the time, in fact they very rarely rack up the watts in the interest of saving battery life.

    The emergency users directly above the 4G band are already being cleared out, so it’s the audio devices running from 863 to 865MHz which are most at risk. That includes low-end wireless mics such as one might pick up in Maplin or similar, which would amplify any interference. Above 865MHz are RFID tags, very short range but reliant on sensitive receivers, while above that are some smart meters and grannies pendant with the red button in case she falls.

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Teardown: Inside RIM Blackberry Playbook LTE–Inside-the-RIM-Blackberry-Playbook-LTE?Ecosystem=communications-design

    Let’s call a spade a spade: Research-in-Motion’s latest consumer electronic release, the Blackberry Playbook LTE, is highly unlikely to reverse the current tide of negativity that comes with any news from the Waterloo, Canada-based manufacturer.

    Once the Playbook LTE was torn down, it became apparent that RIM chose to stick with many of the semiconductor partners they chose to design with in the first Playbook. Maintaining some key socket wins in the new Playbook was Texas Instruments. The Playbook LTE features TI’s OMAP 4460,

    Surprisingly, it was Qualcomm who provided the LTE chipsets for the new Playbook, providing the same combination of ICs we’ve seen in other LTE-based handsets. The MDM9200 from Qualcomm is the GSM/W-CDMA/LTE baseband processor. This processor works in conjunction with the RTR6800 transceiver and the PM8028 power management IC (both these ICs were recently seen in the iPhone 4S and the iPad 3).

  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    ZTE gives LTE a lift with multi-mode data card
    Biz travellers to China will be happy

    Chinese telecoms kit peddler ZTE has unveiled what it claims are the world’s first USB modem and portable hotspot devices to support both versions of LTE, FDD and TDD, in a move which could be welcomed by international business travellers keen on sniffing out the fastest local networks.

    LTE is by no means standard around the globe yet, but the number of commercial networks is steadily growing.

    TDD, or TD-LTE, is the China-backed version which the country has poured significant sums into developing and is looking to promote throughout Asia, while FDD is likely to be most popular in the US, Europe and Australia.

    The snappily titled MF82052 USB modem supports FDD (frequency division duplexing) and TDD (time division duplexing) versions of LTE as well as China’s home-grown 3G standard TD-SCDMA and EDGE.

    “However, these devices lack a ‘global’ appeal as support for WCDMA is absent,” he added.

    “Rather than supporting EDGE, it would have made a lot more sense to support WCDMA.

  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    An LTE iPhone could be the most disruptive thing in the UK mobile market since the original

    Today’s been rather a momentous day in the UK mobile arena, following local regulator Ofcom’s approval of Everything Everywhere’s plans to use existing spectrum to roll out LTE service early.

    Come September 12th Apple is widely expected to announce its next generation iPhone, replete with LTE connectivity to match the 4G options available on its latest iPad. It doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch to envision Apple providing at least one version of the next iPhone with 1800MHz LTE, which would satisfy the previously unserviced needs of mobile buyers in South Korea, Germany and, yes, the UK via Everything Everywhere (EE). And whether it’s a coincidence or not, it does no harm that T-Mobile and Orange (the two brands whose union gave rise to Everything Everywhere as a company) will be free to start offering LTE to their customers on September 11th.

    The market edge that EE gains over its competitors by being first with fast mobile broadband would, in such a scenario, be exponentially magnified.

  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    47% of US consumers feel they don’t need 4G LTE

    Though Apple’s next iPhone is widely expected to have high-speed 4G long-term evolution connectivity, a new survey has found that nearly half of American consumers feel they don’t need 4G LTE.

    The details come from a survey of 3,000 individuals polled by investment firm Piper Jaffray.

    The survey found that 47 percent of consumers feel they don’t need 4G LTE, and another 26 percent indicated they feel all 4G network technologies are the same. Just 15 percent of those polled said that 4G LTE is the best network technology.

    Among consumers who do have an opinion on 4G LTE networks, Verizon was the clear winner. But Larsen said the general lack of opinion among consumers is good news for AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile.

  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Samsung to supply Three’s new network infrastructure

    Three has signed a deal with Samsung Electronics to develop the network’s LTE radio access network and 3G LTE core infrastructure in the UK.

    It is the first deal of this type Samsung has signed in Europe and means the manufacturer will supply and run LTE base stations, trialling the system later this year with full deployment targeted for 2013.

    In recent years Samsung has partnered with firms in the US, Japan and Saudi Arabia on developing their LTE network infrastructures.

  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Telstra to extend reach of 4G network
    Clickity click says big T, as it plans to reach 66% of Australia

    Telstra has outlined plans to extend the reach of its 4G network, revealing today it will bathe “approximately two-thirds” 66% of Australia’s population in fast wireless in the next ten months.

  16. Tomi Engdahl says:

    4G could signal a wave of mobile security threats, Symantec warns

    Malware seen on WiFi and wired networks, such as botnets, could appear on mobile devices

    THE ROLLOUT OF 4G later this year could give way for more high-risk mobile security implications, Symantec has warned.

    “We could see a move to the sort of threats that we already see on the wireless and fixed connected network,” John said. “Malware that you usually have on fixed networks, like botnets.

    “There aren’t many botnets on mobile devices because the bandwidth’s not there to support it, once you go on to 4G [hackers] could start infecting systems.”

    To ensure that enterprises avoid these these security threats, John advised that businesses need to be on their toes more than ever, look closely at everything that’s coming into the network, and not trust anything.

    4G will also be detrimental to businesses in the way it will add a greater burden for them to ensure that cloud services and mobility – what she calls “two of the biggest security challenges for enterprises and their employees” – are up to scratch.

  17. Tomi Engdahl says:

    LG first to flaunt quad-core Qualcomm smartie

    LG today officially unveiled the Optimus G, the first 4G smartphone to utilise a Qualcomm quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor.

  18. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Sprint Allows LTE Service Over Mobile Virtual Network

    “In the past, carriers like Sprint have placed restrictions on their Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO) to prevent them from competing directly against the carriers. The MVNOs were forced to sell budget service and budget technology. But Businessweek reports that the Galaxy S III has began shipping to customers of MVNO Ting, officially making Ting the first carrier to offer an LTE service without owning an LTE network”

    With the market failure of WiMAX in the US, Sprint has been put in a very bad position overall. At this point it’s everything the company can do just to stay relevant, particularly when the big two (VZ and AT&T) are ahead of you in both coverage and LTE deploy

    Sprint has stripped off the last remaining obstacles to MVNOs competing with it on equal terms

  19. Tomi Engdahl says:

    New iPhone to Support LTE

    Faster Wireless Network Gives Carriers Chance to Sell New Data Plans

    Smartphone makers, including market leader Samsung Electronics Co., have begun offering LTE phones globally. That has given them a selling point that so far Apple has lacked.

    Wireless carriers are eager to drive more customers to those networks, which are more efficient and could spur faster growth in data revenue by making it easier for consumers to use services like streaming video.

  20. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Finns want 4g phone, even if they do not know what it is, survives in the summer survey.

    It is easy to fool in the phone and tablet PC shops, shows, shows a study commissioned by Samsung and Sifon study by TNS.

    According to the study more than half of the Finnish wants to terminal equipment that supports 4G technology.

    When Finns were asked what 4G means, one in four said they knew.

    4g technology came to the Nordic countries in 2009.

    Unlike 3G networks, building 4G networks is a kind of manual work, which is carried out together with mobile operators. Devices to be tested together with networks.

    Due different frequency allocations 4G devices will not necessarily work in different countries. 4G frequencies within a country can also vary between telecom operators.


  21. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Everything Everywhere’s 4G: Why I’m sitting this one out
    Can’t get 3G working, can’t lug a briefcase of batteries with me

    4G can do more with the radio spectrum than 3G, but this cleverness comes at the a cost: it requires much more processing power to cope with the surge in data and the electronics will draw more current. This is straightforward physics and – even if mobile networks had no legacy baggage – a 4G network would deplete your battery faster than 3G. The technology in the handset will improve and become more efficient, but that’s no use to us here and now.

    For the time being, the network must cope with 3G and 2G phones, and fall back to these legacy standards in areas where it cannot deliver 4G connections. Switching a handset’s transceiver hardware between 4G (OFDM) and 3G (CDMA) drains the battery, just as switching between 3G and 2G (GSM) does. US device manufacturers operating on Verizon’s network keep both 3G and 4G radios flying at once

    Device manufacturers are building in bigger batteries, but even without the additional power drain, they’re gasping simply to keep pace.

    The question you then have to ask is – do you really really need that extra speed?

  22. Tomi Engdahl says:

    13/09/2012 11:58 Chinese phone manufacturer ZTE in China to open its first commercial 4G mobile network. The network will use the city of Beijing.

    ZTE took the network trial last year. The company announced today that the network will be opened for commercial use.


  23. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Why the iPhone 5 Lacks Support for Simultaneous Voice and LTE or EVDO (SVLTE, SVDO)

    First a bit of history: first generation LTE phones on Verizon used a combination of two cellular architectures to deliver both LTE and CDMA1x/EVDO capabilities.

    Modernizations from Qualcomm have since reduced the number of digital basebands required to just one (with MSM8960 and MDM9x15) which helped improve battery life, but the end implementation still requires the same three-antenna solution.

    On WCDMA/GSM carriers, the path forward until we get to VoLTE is what’s called circuit-switched fallback (CS-FB). This quite literally means you drop from 4G LTE to 3G WCDMA (where voice and data are already multiplexed) for the call, then hand back up to LTE when you’re finished. This is the way that voice works at the moment for all GSM/WCDMA carriers, and on all those handsets with LTE to date.

    So onto the iPhone – we know definitively that the iPhone 5 definitely doesn’t support either SVDO or SVLTE. It’s as simple as looking at the FCC documents and the appropriate sections in the allowed and tested simultaneous transmitters section for SAR (Specific Absorption Rate) testing. There, it’s spelled out that only one air interface can be active at a time, and that only one antenna can be selected for transmit at a time. There’s also an explicitly called out mention to VoLTE not being supported.

    From Apple’s perspective, no doubt the iPhone 5 not supporting simultaneous voice and data on CDMA carriers isn’t the end of the world. After all, iPhone 4 and 4S customers have ostensibly been using their phones without that functionality just fine for some time now – this is just a logical extension.

    What it really boils down to is that by using this single Tx chain, Apple is able to support a ton of LTE bands (more space for PAs and fewer transceiver ports used on SVLTE for CDMA networks) and also do it without making the iPhone very large. Moving to an architecture that works with SVDO and SVLTE would require an additional transmit path and antenna, and incur a size and weight penalty.

    In the future all of this overhead to implement voice with legacy 3G and 2G networks will largely go away and exist only as a handover option for when LTE service isn’t available. Voice over LTE is indeed coming soon.

  24. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Computer News Finnish operators hesitate iPhone 4g model imports
    Finnish operators hesitate iPhone 4g model imports

    One of the iPhone 5 in its 4G models supports 1800 MHz LTE networks which are built in Finland.

    In Finland, 4G networks are built in 1800 and 2600 MHz frequencies. 2600-frequency region is important, since it complements the capacity of city centers.

    In the future, LTE coverage will be expanded to the 800 megahertz frequency.

    The growing range of frequencies 4G networks makes advertising and selecting devices harder every day.


  25. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Intel Confirms Medfield x86 Chips Don’t Support LTE Yet — But Says It Won’t Be Long Coming

    Intel’s second bite at the smartphone market has been more akin to a gentle nibbling around the edges. At the end of last year the chipmaker teased a smartphone reference design running its Medfield x86 Atom SoC. Nine months later Intel chips have found their way inside six real world smartphones, yet none apparently destined for the U.S.

    The likely explanation is there’s no support for LTE in Intel’s current Medfield chips. And with 4G such a dominant force in the U.S. you need to command a brand as massive as Apple to get away with flogging LTE-less phones (the iPhone 5 being Cupertino’s only 4G phone).

    The lack of LTE support in Medfield chips was confirmed to TechCrunch by Sumeet Syal, Intel’s Director of Product Marketing

    He also confirmed 4G support is in the pipeline, noting that Intel will be “shipping some LTE products later this year and ramping into 2013″ – so that particular barrier to U.S. entry may soon be removed.

    Syal said Intel is also readying a dual-core Atom Medfield chip. Its current Medfield chip architecture is single core, although the SoC includes a technique to boost multitasking called hyper threading which — Intel claims — allows it to out-perform some rival multicore chips.

    App compatibility is another area where Intel is having to play catch up. Despite working closely with Google to optimize its chip architecture for Android, not all Android apps are compatible with Intel’s SoCs — including, in a recently flagged example, Google’s own Chrome for Android browser.

    Syal said the “majority” of Android apps are compatible with Medfield chips but refused to specify an exact percentage — although Intel has previously claimed 95 per cent of apps are compatible (which was a correction of a previous Intel statement pegging Android app compatibility at just 70 per cent of apps).

  26. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Virgin ramps 4G to a whopping 90Mbps – and switches it off

    Virgin Mobile has completed its 4G trials in the UK, hitting speeds of 90Mbps both indoors and out. But don’t expect EE’s 4G monopoly to break any time soon despite the ongoing collaboration between the two companies.

    Virgin’s trials were carried out at 2.6GHz, which will come up for auction next year, and the trials have enabled the company to work out the costs for national deployment, and thus bid sensibly when that auction comes around.

    It’s easy to imagine a Virgin Mobile 4G network, using Small Cells in customer homes and bolted to lamp posts around the cities. Punters can roam onto one of the existing 2G or 3G networks when venturing further afield. Virgin will certainly have done the mathematics on such a model and worked out the maximum amount it can bid for a 4G licence.

  27. Tomi Engdahl says:

    WTF is… VoLTE
    Why voice calls on 4G may be pants (at first)

    How are the UK’s mobile network operators going to handle voice calls when they switch on their 4G LTE networks? Possibly not very well.

    LTE is a purely IP network, so ordinary phone calls need to carried using voice-over-IP (VoIP) technology. That ought to be straightforward: VoIP has been around for years, the principles are understood, and there’s even an LTE-centric VoIP specification, Voice over LTE (VoLTE), formerly known as OneVoice. It sits on top of the well-established IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) standard.

    The problem is, VoLTE isn’t an easy technology to deploy. It’s very new and there’s still a lot of testing going on in the lab. Part of the problem is that its implementation is very network dependent: what kit the operators are using, how big the network is, what backhaul capacity they have, the impact of the extra VoIP on the data network, and so on.

    Operators have to get all that right. We’ve all put up with low-quality VoIP conversations, and the operators want to make sure users don’t get the same sub-par experience on their networks – subscribers won’t stand for it. Passable VoIP is fine if you’re getting it for free, but not if you’re coughing up £30 or £40 a month. Get voice wrong and punters may decide to switch operators – or even decide that 4G isn’t worth paying extra for.

    In the US, for example, Verizon CTO Tony Melone was quoted earlier this year as saying that his company won’t be rolling out VoLTE until late 2013 or early 2014.

    In the meantime, Verizon – and other VoLTE-less networks – are likely to handle voice calls by dropping them onto 3G or even 2G networks. This approach is called Circuit Switched Fall Back (CSFB), and it’s part of the 3GPP standard for 3G networks.

    To avoid the delay, operators could just force LTE handsets to use 4G for data while maintaining a full-time 3G connection for voice, but that’s not going to play well in a world where smartphone battery life is brief enough as is. 4G support itself takes a high toll on the battery. It’s like the early days of 3G.

  28. Tomi Engdahl says:

    4G LTE deployments stall

    Key deployments of TD-LTE systems, the backbone of 3G and burgeoning 4G mobile technologies, have recently stalled, both globally and nationally.

    In the U.S., the 4G mobile network carrier Clearwire has announced that it may deploy portions of its latest TD-LTE network build. As reported by CED Magazine, the company is delaying the roll-out of 5,000 TD-LTE cell sites for a network

    Across the oceans, the government of India is also reportedly planning to stall major TD-LTE deployments till 2014

    The report cites analysis from TBR saying that “for the remainder of 2012, activity in Asia Pacific region will slow as Japan and South Korea complete their initial LTE builds and China and India stall TD-LTE deployment until at least 2014 due to a variety of political factors.”

    Parks Associates contends that the Asia Pacific region will lead the 4G LTE market by 2016, with largest gains in South Korea and Japan; and that the Asia and Pacific region will eventually overtake North America in number of 4G/LTE subscribers, with more than 53 percent of 4G/LTE subscribers. Globally, the total number of subscribers to the technology is projected to be over 560 million by 2016.

  29. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Want to know what 5G mobile is? Ask this British university
    In a bit, when they’ve worked it out themselves

    Surrey University has scored £11.6m in government cash, and £24m from the industry, to fund the development of next-generation telecoms in a shiny new 5G Innovation Centre.

    4G is nebulous enough, with American networks applying it to HSDPA, while in Europe we won’t even call EDGE a “3G” technology despite it failing into that definition. The ITU, usual custodian of such things, gave up last year and said anyone should be free to use the term “4G” as they wish, recanting its earlier insistence on speeds topping 100Mb/sec.

    Realistically, 4G will be the last generational shift noticed by customers, so 5G is unlikely ever to be known by that name.

    The other problem is that LTE, the 4G technology of choice, is about as efficient as it can get: fitting more signals into the same frequency band just isn’t possible.

    LTE isn’t much more spectrally efficient than HSDPA+, but it is more flexible in being able to grab a bigger (or smaller) slice of spectrum as needed. LTE Advanced will be able to grab non-contiguous blocks of spectrum and combine them to achieve greater speeds, but not by squeezing more into the same space.

  30. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Industry view: Testing VoLTE devices–Testing-VoLTE-devices?cid=EDNToday

    As mobile networking shifts toward a data-centric usage model, the standards have adjusted to suit with the emerging long-term evolution (LTE) standard defining a packet-based data network. Instead of supporting data on a voice network, service providers will now be delivering voice over a packet-based network in a service dubbed voice over LTE (VoLTE).

    Deployment of 4G networks is still limited, which means that in many cases LTE voice calls are being carried by the 3G network, particularly when a user accessing data receives an LTE call. The process of shifting LTE calls and data access on to the 3G network is known as circuit-switched fallback (CSFB), and can compromise the quality of service experienced by the user.

    Currently, the industry is hard at work refining VoLTE technology throughout the food chain, from the chip through network. The development process makes testing capabilities more important than ever.

  31. Tomi Engdahl says:

    WiMAX Forum runs up white flag, concedes 4G battle to LTE
    ‘What, were those guys still around?’ asks world

    The WiMAX forum, on the losing side in the race to 4G, has given up on WiMAX 2.0 and is instead promoting integration with LTE – or “the competition” as it used to be known.

    WiMAX had a first-mover advantage on LTE. Recognised early by the ITU as a “4G” standard, it was being deployed and used well before the LTE specification was written, but mainly in immobile form as back-up connectivity to companies around New York and elsewhere.

    The mobile version was heavily backed by the South Korean government, and in the US Clearwire saw a marketing advantage in being the only 4G player in town and invested heavily in WiMAX infrastructure: infrastructure it’s now migrating away from as fast as it can flick the switches.

    But the network operators never liked WiMAX.

    Intel backed it heavily, promising to make the technology part of Centrino branding and embed it in laptops, but Qualcomm was more interested in (and owned more IP in) LTE, and had the ear of the mobile operators.

    WiMAX doesn’t require the paired spectrum that phone networks use, so was more flexible than existing technologies. 2G, 3G and LTE all use separate frequencies for sending and receiving, which is expensive both in kit and spectrum, but that’s how the telecom engineers like things – one “wire” for each direction. In these days of asynchronous communications that makes no sense at all, as the upward band is empty most of the time, so WiMAX seemed a better technology.

    But LTE has been extended to offer the same thing, with TD-LTE which (like WiMAX) switches between sending and receiving in the same band

    With TD-LTE growing in popularity, and able to slip into single bands, the only advantage WiMAX had left is gone and the only option for the Forum was to embrace the competition or disappear entirely.

    The idea is to provide dual-function base stations, which can do both WiMAX and TD-LTE at the same time

    From here that looks like a migration strategy at best,

  32. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Network planning and testing for LTE-Advanced

    Streaming video, gaming, advanced applications, and more are putting demands on today’s wireless networks and increasing the need for capacity and tower density. In response, carriers are looking at options, such as Wi-Fi underlay and backhaul, to limit the load on networks.

    Simultaneously, various carriers are conducting trials and looking to introduce LTE-Advanced to the masses in 2013, which promises to make a performance leap by bringing more low-powered nodes closer to the user. However, issues around standards and how each carrier will make network handovers complicate things when deploying heterogeneous network components such, as smaller cell sites (e.g., picocells, femtocells, etc.).

  33. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Battery-Powered Transmitter Could Crash A City’s 4G Network

    “With a £400 transmitter, a laptop and a little knowledge you could bring down an entire city’s high-speed 4G network. This information comes from research carried out in the U.S. into the possibility of using LTE networks as the basis for a next-generation emergency response communications system.”

    ‘If LTE technology is to be used for the air interface of the public safety network, then we should consider the types of jamming attacks that could occur five or ten years from now”

    One Simple Trick Could Disable a City’s 4G Phone Network

    High-speed LTE networks could be felled by a $650 piece of gear, says a new study.

    The high-bandwidth mobile network technology LTE (long-term evolution) is rapidly spreading around the world. But researchers show that just one cheap, battery-operated transmitter aimed at tiny portions of the LTE signal could knock out a large LTE base station serving thousands of people. “Picture a jammer that fits in a small briefcase that takes out miles of LTE signals—whether commercial or public safety,” says Jeff Reed, director of the wireless research group at Virginia Tech.

    “This can be relatively easy to do,” and it would not be easy to defend against, Reed adds. If a hacker added an inexpensive power amplifier to his malicious rig, he could take down an LTE network in an even larger region.

    If LTE networks were to be compromised, existing 3G and 2G networks would still operate—but those older networks are gradually being phased out.

    There are seven other such weak points, the researchers say, any one of which could be used to jam an LTE signal with a low-power transmitter. “There are multiple weak spots—about eight different attacks are possible. The LTE signal is very complex, made up of many subsystems, and in each case, if you take out one subsystem, you take out the entire base station.”

    All that would be required is a laptop and an inexpensive software-defined radio unit (which can cost as little as $650). Battery power, including from a car battery, would then be enough to jam an LTE base station. Doing so would require technical knowledge of the complexity of the LTE standard, but those standards—unlike military ones—are openly published. “Any communications engineer would be able to figure this stuff out,” Lichtman says.

    All of the latest smartphones and major carriers are heavily promoting a transition to LTE networks. Around the world, nearly 500 million people have access to the signals from more than 100 LTE operators in 94 countries. The technology can be 10 times faster at delivering data, such as video, than 3G networks.

    No jamming of LTE networks is known to have happened as a result of the vulnerabilities,

    The impact of any LTE vulnerabilities could be enormous. By Ericsson’s estimate, half the world’s population will have LTE coverage by 2017. And many consumer devices—including medical monitors, cameras, and even vehicles—may adopt LTE technology for a new wave of applications

    Digital cellular communications were engineered to address another security concern. “Back in the old days, our students used to listen in on cell-phone conversations for entertainment. It was extremely easy to do. And that was actually one of the key motivators behind digital cellular systems,” Reed says. “LTE does a good job of covering those aspects. But unconventional security aspects, such as preventing signal jamming, have been largely overlooked.”

  34. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Verizon Envisions 4G Wireless in Just about Anything

    At an “innovation center,” Verizon adds wireless to cars, ATMs, and jukeboxes.

    The LTE Innovation Center, as it’s called, envisions all manner of devices using Verizon’s newer and faster 4G LTE network, which provides speeds up to 10 times faster than the older 3G network that is the focus of much of today’s congestion issues. (Verizon slows data transfers to 3G customers when networks are congested. AT&T slows data transfers after users hit a three-gigabyte monthly threshold.)

    For now, Verizon’s LTE network has fewer than six million subscribers and isn’t being fully utilized—much less throttled—says Chetan Sharma, an independent wireless analyst based in Seattle. But as 3G subscribers migrate to LTE and more people buy smart phones, LTE congestion will become a greater risk, he adds.

    Verizon is hardly the only player drumming up business. All of the major carriers are interested in boosting revenue by dreaming up and promoting new uses for faster wireless broadband—especially for business customers. “They really want to find out how to get revenue not just from consumers using networks, but from businesses,”

    Lindqvist says it’s not entirely clear how bad congestion really is, but says it’s not necessarily paradoxical to throttle data on the one hand while promoting more usage on the other. “This kind of fits the scheme: you limit consumers now so you can support more customers and applications later,” he says.

    Verizon opened the testing and demonstration site last year. More than 300 employees work there with partners to develop new business models.

    One business that’s already signed on is TouchTunes, a maker of interactive jukeboxes—one of which hangs on the wall at the Verizon Center. The company streams songs and video to 52,000 jukeboxes in bars and restaurants around the United States. A company spokeswoman, Liz Anklow, says an undisclosed percentage of these already use wired and wireless broadband, including both 3G and LTE, which makes it easier to sell and maintain the system in more places.

    “The vision is that there is going to be an LTE pipe providing a combination of infotainment, security services, surveillance, and home control that you can access from anywhere.”

    A video camera just above the plate can be programmed to dispatch a blast of streaming video when the car is bumped. You’d get a message on your smart phone and an image of who hit you, he says. Similarly, cameras inside the car could let you see how many teenagers piled in after junior borrowed the keys, he adds.

    An electric meter rigged with an LTE radio chip, he says, would initially do low-bandwidth tasks such as sending reports on kilowatt-hours used. But it could also be the basis of wider services offered by your power utility, such as home security monitoring. While wired security cameras could be cut off by physically severing a cable, wireless cameras are more tamper-proof.

    “Now these guys have a gateway; if they want to add water metering, and gas metering, and multiple nannycams, they can do all of that,” says Atreya. “They could even end up offering broadband service to the home, because they have X amount of data left.”

  35. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Google seen sniffing over a Dish of mobile spectrum

    Google has been chatting to Dish about cooperatively launching a mobile phone network in the USA, using the same loophole LightSquared failed to exploit to build a national network.

    It’s not just Google that Dish is taking to, the TV company has been looking for a partner for some time and is open to discussions with anyone

    Dish certainly wants to roll out a mobile network, having seen LightSquared fail at the final fence in its attempt. Both companies own frequencies designated for satellite use, but in the USA such owners are also permitted to deploy ground stations in the same band, to fill in shadows and improve building penetration: a loophole LightSquared hoped to use and Dish plans to.

  36. Tomi says:

    FCC: Let Dish deploy 4G? Imagine a $1bn pile of cash … ON FIRE
    LTE in sat-phone frequencies ‘will turn public asset into private windfall’

    Letting Dish roll out LTE into its satellite frequencies will obliterate the value of neighbouring radio spectrum that the US government hopes to sell for billions, said the FCC.

    FCC rep Justin Cole told Bloomberg that allowing Dish to deploy 4G would “take a public asset potentially worth billions of dollars and turn it into a private windfall”, putting the wannabe mobile operator on the back foot. Dish is awaiting a green-light from the FCC to run its high-speed data network, and approval could come in the next few weeks.

    Dish is hoping to get permission to deploy a 4G network in bands previously reserved for satellite phones, and – crucially – permission to deploy devices using those bands without any satellite capability at all. But the uplink band it wants to use, 2000 to 2020MHz, is right beside a 5MHz block that Sprint wants to buy and the FCC wants to sell.

  37. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Analysis: Half of all mobile connections running on 3G/4G networks by 2017

    3G and 4G technologies will account for half of all global mobile connections in five years, according to Wireless Intelligence forecasts.

    2G connections are forecast to decline by over half a million over the next five years (down from 4.8 billion) as users migrate to next-generation 3G/4G networks and devices.

    In the 3G space, HSPA will continue to account for the vast majority of connections; the technology is forecast to make-up over 30 percent of the global total by 2017, almost double the 16 percent share today.

    Most WCDMA operators have now upgraded their networks to HSPA and many have deployed dual-carrier HSPA+ in order to offer download speeds on a par with 4G.

    The share of 3G CDMA technologies (EV-DO) will remain flat over the period at about 4 percent, but will grow in absolute terms.

    4G technologies such as LTE, TD-LTE and WiMAX currently account for just 1 percent of the global total but are forecast to account for 10 percent by 2017. The most common implementation of LTE (FDD) is expected to account for about 85 percent of all 4G connections by this point, with TD-LTE at 14 percent.

  38. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Apple vetting operators on LTE network performance

    Apple is not allowing mobile operators to offer the iPhone 5 as an LTE device unless they pass the Californian vendor’s own, independent tests for LTE network performance, Swisscom has confirmed.

    It proved, he said, “who is running the industry”, adding: “Apple have put themselves in the driving seat; it’s really changing the game.”

  39. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Battle-test the EPC for accurate LTE/4G billing structures

    LTE is rapidly changing the way mobile services are used. It is spurring development of rich new broadband services, and triggering the deployment of new handset features such as higher screen resolution and better battery technologies through increased capacity. Traditional services like SMS and MMS are morphing into rich communication services to include features such as real-time video calling.

    While these advances are great for the end-user, service providers require their network to support a variety of applications not traditionally seen on mobile phones — like advanced web surfing, streaming video, peer-to-peer networking, and machine-to-machine communications that consume large amounts of bandwidth for longer durations. Smartphones and increased backhaul traffic have already created nightmare scenarios for carriers, including the need to regulate the traffic flows and the need to monetize new services.

    With this surge, mobile services providers are not only faced with finding ways to optimize the performance of their networks, but simultaneously creating billing structures that drives revenue for these enhanced services. Should the person who is streaming HD movies from Netflix be billed at a different rate than someone simply sending out text messages? Most service providers believe so, since downloading a YouTube video uses 100x more bandwidth than voice, and not to mention that the average iPhone uses 400MB of data per month.

    Solutions must not only recognize the applications and services each individual is using, but also decipher their different billing plans based on a variety of criteria. This can be a huge challenge when you consider the millions of concurrent mobile users any one network has at any given time.

    The Role of the Evolved Packet Core
    As such, providers’ best option is to validate and optimize the performance and accuracy of the charging system components of the evolved packet core (EPC). The EPC is the all-IP mobile core network for LTE, allowing the convergence of packet-based real-time and non-real-time services. It not only provides a simpler, flatter, and cheaper network infrastructure, but also adheres to new, stringent LTE requirements for high bandwidth, reduced latency, and 2G/3G interoperability.

    Measurements are essential to assessing the quality and performance of the EPC.

    By creating a high number of subscribers and their behavior, and stepping through a sequence of events that trigger charging data records (CDR), operators can successfully validate the EPC billing system.

  40. Tomi Engdahl says:

    CommScope expert advises on proper LTE installations

    “The one thing we’ve been concerned about from a steel products manufacturing aspect, is [determining] the proper use of the mounts,” explains CommScope’s Heath. “With LTE [installations], we’re talking about adding heavier remote radios, heavier antennas — as well as junction boxes and fiber boxes — and all this weight is going onto existing structures with existing antennas and technologies. And you can’t put this much load onto a structure that wasn’t designed for it.”

    The class is aimed at tower technicians, tower owners, and carriers.

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